Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist, suggests seven key concepts for transitioning from the illusion of "endless growth" to a realistic goal of "thriving in balance" for humanity and the human habitat:
1. Change the goal -- from GDP to Doughnut.
2. See the big picture -- from self-contained market to embedded economy.
3. Nurture human nature -- from rational economic man to social adaptable humans.
4. Get savvy with systems -- from mechanical equilibrium to dynamic complexity.
5. Design to distribute -- from 'growth will even it up again' to distributive design.
6. Create to regenerate -- from 'growth will clean it up again' to regenerative by design.
7. Be agnostic about growth -- from growth addicted to growth agnostic.
The Elders are an independent group of global leaders working together for peace and human rights. Contact them and support their work for the common good. See personal stories of people making a difference in their communities. DO SOMETHING!
SEI is developing practical ways to reflect the interplay of goals and targets in Agenda 2030 implementation strategies.
One of the most revolutionary aspects of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is that its goals and targets should be treated as an indivisible, and integrated, whole. Back in September 2015, this principle was broadly welcomed, particularly by those worried that too much focus on economic growth was harming long-term environmental and social sustainability – or vice versa.
But faced with the reality of governance and policy set-ups and the sheer variety of ways that the 169 targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can interact, policy-makers tasked with drawing up national implementation strategies have often found themselves quickly overwhelmed.
“From the policy-makers we’ve spoken to in Sweden, and from what we’re hearing from partners around the world, there is a real demand for practical ways to translate this integrated agenda into realistic policy ambitions,” says SEI’s Nina Weitz.
To meet this urgent need, SEI is developing a range of decision-support tools and methods to help identify strategic priorities, high-synergy pathways and cross-sectoral partnerships for practically implementing the 2030 Agenda.
Much of SEI’s pioneering work in this area builds on a 7-point scale proposed by Nilsson et al. in the journal Nature last year for characterizing SDG interactions. This scale rates interactions from the most positive, “indivisible” (scored as +3), through “consistent” (0) to the most negative, “cancelling” (–3). In doing so it moves thinking about interactions beyond the language of trade-offs and synergies to allow far more nuanced, and policy-relevant, assessments.
A forthcoming SEI Working Paper applies this scale to characterize interactions emanating from six SDG goals. It looks at how targets under these goals interact with other SDG targets, how far this interaction is affected by context, and the state of the evidence and knowledge base around the interaction.
Based on analyses by Måns Nilsson for the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the paper focuses on the six SDG goals that will come under the spotlight at this year’s High-Level Political Forum process: Goals 1, 2, 3, 5, 9 and 14.
“This work highlighted the very different ways goal areas interact. For example, we couldn’t find a single target that would suffer from more gender equality and empowerment of women – Goal 5 – or poverty reduction – Goal 1– and several targets that would benefit significantly,” says Nilsson. “In contrast, there are risks of severe negative interactions with environmental and water access targets if we go about meeting the targets under Goal 2, on food, the wrong way.”
From complexity to practical policy options
While the 7-point scale makes it easier to talk about interactions, applying it to more targets only emphasizes how difficult it is to translate them into policy options in a specific context.
“It’s like a jack-in-the-box,” says Weitz. “Once you recognize that any two SDG targets could influence each other in one or both directions, and then rate each of those interactions on the 7-point scale, and then recognize that each of those targets potentially interacts with yet other targets in ways that might feed back on the original pair, the number of interactions to consider becomes astronomical.”
To try and pull actionable insights out of this complexity, a team including Weitz and Nilsson, along with Henrik Carlsen and Kristian Skånberg, is applying cross-impact balance analysis methodology, combined with network analysis tools, to map and visualize key interactions between a selection of SDG targets in the Swedish context. “By treating them as a system, way we can identify and visually map the interactions that have the biggest influence in a given context or for a given actor, helping to identify strategic priorities for investment and policy action,” says Weitz. The team hopes to publish a paper and brief from the study in the spring of 2017.
In another project, SEI is working with the Swedish Steel Producers Association, Jernkontoret, and Swedish steel producers to develop a “societal value compass” for the industry – a methodology and set of tools to assess how the industry as a whole, or a given steel producer, could influence sustainability and societal value. The “compass” will utilize cross-impact balance analysis applied to the SDGs and social capital theory to define sustainable pathways.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Caspar Trimmer is a science writer and editor with SEI’s global communications team. Prior to joining SEI he spent seven years with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in a combined editorial and communications role. From 1995 until 2006 he worked in China and Southeast Asia for a variety of high-profile clients, including the FAO, UNICEF, UNDP, ILO, UNIFEM, Save the Children and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies. He has also worked as a subeditor at a national newspaper in Thailand and as a researcher at a leading brand-management agency.
The Community and Ascetic Dimensions of Christian Ecological Commitment
Jaime Tatay Nieto, SJ
Originally published in
EcoJesuit, 31 January 2017 under a Creative Commons License
Many continue to examine the motivating factors behind the promulgation of Laudato si’ (LS), the first “ecological” encyclical in the history of Church social teaching. The subject of LS goes far beyond the Catholic community and concerns every person who believes in a God who can act out of love, intervenes in history and delivers the gift of creation. And yet the question remains: should religious people get involved in a discussion about the environment, apparently so technical, and far-removed from faith?
Scientists, economists, politicians and military personnel are becoming increasingly interested in issues related to the challenge of sustainability. Pollution, disruption of climate patterns, destruction of the ozone layer, soil degradation, access to and quality of water, loss of biodiversity, depletion of renewable and non-renewable resources, and the recovery of nitrogen and phosphorus cycles – to name but a few of the planetary problems identified by the scientific community – are issues that have mobilised concerned societal actors.
Returning to the question with which we began: what sense does it have for religions in general and the Catholic Church in particular to enter this discussion? What motivates their interest? What legitimizes their intervention? What is their contribution?
The community dimension
The ecclesial or community dimension of the Christian experience is one of the main contributions that the Church can make to the discussion on sustainability. Along with proposals that seek to empower the consumer, educate the citizen and transform the political establishment through individual voting behaviour, the Church insists that we cannot ignore the community dimension when articulating operational responses to contemporary challenges. Pope Francis prioritizes the community as a unit of analysis and social action. There are several reasons why he chose this community approach rather than more individualistic proposals that characterize most environmental approaches.
Firstly, LS points out that “self-improvement on the part of individuals will not by itself remedy the extremely complex situation facing our world today.” (LS 219) The modern individual is overwhelmed by the complexity and number of decisions that must be made, and however well-informed and well-intentioned, there is a need to support oneself and sustain this commitment through community networks. Furthermore, there is a spiritual dimension: a community is a stimulus and a source of motivation because it is “called into being by one Father, all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion.” (LS 89)
Secondly, this cosmic communion consisting of “the sublime fraternity with all creation which Saint Francis of Assisi so radiantly embodied” (LS 221) is not the exclusive preserve of mystics. It is in fact an invitation and task for all as members of a community that goes beyond the local realm, present time and human species. To experience a “universal fraternity” (LS 228) cultivates a spiritual attitude: “an integral ecology includes taking time to recover a serene harmony with creation, reflecting on our lifestyle and our ideals, and contemplating the Creator who lives among us and surrounds us, whose presence “must not be contrived but found, uncovered.” (LS 225)
Thirdly, the centrality of the community dimension for sustainability also resonates with a central tradition in the history of Catholic social thought: the common good. This is an economic and socio-political vision of a communitarian character as opposed to the individualist tradition of political liberalism. Considering the misrule and accelerated degradation of the “global commons” (LS 174), the notion of the common good is receiving increased interest both inside and outside the Church.
For instance, when Pope Francis affirms that “the climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all” (LS 23), he is pointing out that we cannot limit ourselves to a merely physical or economic analysis of the reality we call climate. Instead there is a need to understand it as a common good in respect of which “the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfilment.” (LS 156) Spirituality acquires great relevance in relation to the perception and promotion of the common good: “Inner peace is closely related to care for ecology and for the common good.” (LS 225)
The ascetic dimension
Alongside the community dimension, asceticism also stands out as a typically religious contribution to the subject of sustainability. Ascetic practices such as fasting, abstinence and almsgiving, undertaken with the aim of purifying one’s relationship with God and with others, offer a significant element that other actors in our cultural context are not able to propose. These practices cultivate virtues of sobriety, detachment, and simplicity of life which articulate an integrated spiritual experience, and are relevant to an over-exploited planet, possessing finite resources and a high socio-economic inequality.
Citing Benedict XVI, Pope Francis affirms that “we have a sort of ‘super-development’ of a wasteful and consumerist kind which forms an unacceptable contrast with the on-going situations of dehumanizing deprivation.” (LS 109) Not only does the consumerist drive in the richest societies contrast with the persistent poverty amongst the rest of humanity, it is also the main cultural vector of environmental degradation.
Faced with this situation, the Church has spiritual resources that resonate deeply with a long tradition that values simplicity of life and solidarity. This tradition, which has monastic roots and is conveyed during Lent and penitential ascetic practices, has a great potential to catalyse community transformations and for re-interpretation along ecological lines.
Thus, socio-political transformation and community action can go hand in hand with a spirituality of asceticism and voluntary simplicity. The interweaving of spiritual and ecological benefits of asceticism is highlighted by Pope Francis’ proposal for Saint Francis of Assisi as an anthropological model for integral ecology. “The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.” (LS 11)
With LS, Pope Francis has addressed a relatively new area for Catholic social thought – the subject of sustainability. In so doing, he has allowed a fruitful exchange to take place between civil society, the scientific community and the business world. This has been an ecumenical and interreligious dialogue in which the voice of religious traditions is being heard with surprising interest.
In this sense, LS is one of the greatest exercises in public theology of the last decades: it has questioned the political class, dialogued with the academy, and restored interest in the ecclesial institution. And at the same time, LS has updated Catholic Social Teaching by including in its agenda the greatest concern of our time: the call to care for our common home.
This is a translated and edited version of an article Experiencia religiosa y Laudato si’ by Jaime Tatay Nieto, SJ which appeared in the journal Corintios XIII, Revista de teología y pastoral de la caridad, Julio-Septiembre 2016, n.º 159.
Accessing information from the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) has never been easier. The GEOSS Portal has undergone a transformation, to be unveiled in time for GEO’s Thirteenth Plenary.
The European Space Agency (ESA) in partnership with Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) has built an intuitive interface to discover, access and use all of the ever-growing numbers of GEO-resources from a variety of providers all around the world.
Users can now perform temporal, thematic and geographic searches, allowing them to retrieve the resources they are looking for quickly and accurately. Keywords can be used to perform general searches and progressive filtering is applied to support users in refining and narrowing down their search results. A synthetic summary is presented of key metadata fields. Icon buttons help the user quickly assess the results' relevance. Make use of the GEOSS Portal’s feedback form and let us know what you think.
The team members that made this new look possible are: @CNR-side (GEO-DAB): Stefano Nativi and Mattia Santoro; @ESA-side (GEOSS Portal): Joost van Bemmelen, Guido Colangeli, Piotr Zaborowski; @Geo Secretariat-side: Paola De Salvo and Osamu Ochiai
A new online knowledge hub launched today provides an unparalleled view of multilateral, national and sub-national efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The International Institute for Sustainable Development’s SDG Knowledge Hub consolidates our Policy & Practice knowledgebases—and the tens of thousands of published articles contained within them. Focused on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and its Sustainable Development Goals, the platform draws on IISD’s network of experts to provide real-time information on SDG implementation.
“The development of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was one of the largest participatory processes ever,” said Scott Vaughan, President of the International Institute for Sustainable Development. “Information sharing, measurement and assessment will need to continue if the global community is to achieve the aims set out in the new agenda.”
“The SDG Knowledge Hub provides a much-needed space for that exchange to take place,” said Vaughan.
IISD experts are at the meetings we report on, talking to those involved, and gathering information from official, primary sources. We also develop partnerships with the institutions and organizations we cover, and publish original content from invited experts who are working on the frontlines of SDG implementation. The SDG Knowledge Hub does not aggregate news from other sources.
The SDG Knowledge Hub will be presented at an event in Geneva, Switzerland, on October 26th, and on a webinar on November 3rd. Register for the Geneva event here, and the webinar here.
The value of the hub lays in the depth of information it will contain on each SDG, as well as the breadth of knowledge across all elements of the integrated 2030 Agenda. Content is organized and searchable according to the 17 SDGs. Information is also categorized according to actors, focusing on intergovernmental bodies, agencies and funds within the UN system, as well as national governments, major partnerships, stakeholders and non-state actors. In addition, content is searchable by seven regional groups as well as three regional groupings of small island developing States. A comprehensive calendar provides details on events that address SDG policy and practice.
Users can also filter posts by issue area, action type and specific elements in SDG 17, on the global partnership. This filter permits users to focus in on news based on whether it addresses means of implementation (MOI), such as capacity building and education, or the following systemic issues: data, monitoring and accountability; multi-stakeholder partnerships; and policy and institutional coherence.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be the guiding framework for international development until 2030 and are intended to provide a reference for setting national policy priorities.
This unique, searchable database provides a snapshot of what those national priorities are. Users can compare existing national targets with the ambition of the SDGs. We intend this to be a living document, supplemented and kept up to date by crowdsourcing, and we encourage others to send us new information on national goals to update the tracker.
Over the last two centuries, the impact of the Human System has grown dramatically, becoming strongly dominant within the Earth System in many different ways. Consumption, inequality, and population have increased extremely fast, especially since about 1950, threatening to overwhelm the many critical functions and ecosystems of the Earth System. Changes in the Earth System, in turn, have important feedback effects on the Human System, with costly and potentially serious consequences. However, current models do not incorporate these critical feedbacks. We argue that in order to understand the dynamics of either system, Earth System Models must be coupled with Human System Models through bidirectional couplings representing the positive, negative, and delayed feedbacks that exist in the real systems. In particular, key Human System variables, such as demographics, inequality, economic growth, and migration, are not coupled with the Earth System but are instead driven by exogenous estimates, such as UN population projections. This makes current models likely to miss important feedbacks in the real Earth-Human system, especially those that may result in unexpected or counterintuitive outcomes, and thus requiring different policy interventions from current models. The importance and imminence of sustainability challenges, the dominant role of the Human System in the Earth System, and the essential roles the Earth System plays for the Human System, all call for collaboration of natural scientists, social scientists, and engineers in multidisciplinary research and modeling to develop coupled Earth-Human system models for devising effective science-based policies and measures to benefit current and future generations.
"C-ROADS is an award-winning computer simulation that helps people understand the long-term climate impacts of policy scenarios to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It allows for the rapid summation of national greenhouse gas reduction pledges in order to show the long-term impact on our climate." For more information, click
L: Rene Girard (1923-2015) R: Eric Gans ~ Photo Credit: Grow Mercy
Anthropologist Eric Gans considers that human language has as its original and primary function the deferral of violence. Readers who seek remedies to social/ecological violence driven by the "scapegoating mechanism" may want to explore the work of Rene Girard as summarized, for example, in Mimetic Theory 101.
It is easier to understand the domestic American situation than to conceive what might be the future evolution of “global” civilization. Clearly we are not yet ready for world government, and the United Nations, which may do good in some of its auxiliary functions, seems increasingly less worthy of respect. Trump’s UN appointees’ expressions of impatience with its barely disguised antisemitism are long overdue, but it is difficult to imagine them turning the body around. The Jews remain, for their glory and suffering, the “chosen people” of the West, and the UN’s chief merit has been to make clear how little this has changed over the centuries.
If Israel is particularly hated because the very idea of a “Jewish state” appears as a contradiction in terms, this has at least the merit of clarifying the crux of the current conflict: the self-affirmation of the nation apart from humanity as a whole. The persistent hostility of our European allies to Israel’s national self-affirmation—the US hypocritically abstained on Resolution 2334, but France and England voted for it—coincides par contraste with Brexit and other signs of a recrudescence of national identity. There are still-inchoate rumblings of reaction against the West’s persistent victimocracy, in many ways far worse in Europe than in the US, and even less helpful in the long run to the far larger unassimilated population whose interests it purports to advance.
Israel has recently become more nationalistic in response to the intransigence of those who continually demand concessions of it and offer nothing in return. The European countries face no such existential threats, but the influx of Muslim immigration has made them increasingly aware of the problems caused by weakly assimilated populations in a culture that has become reluctant to affirm any kind of national or even civilizational identity.
Just as the Jews as the “first nation” are the natural targets of anti-nationalist reaction, so the Muslims, the faithful of a religion that denies the legitimacy of nationality, are the poster children for this new fear, even as they profit from the post-Hitlerian victimary reaction to any hint of collective firstness.
The strange symbiosis between Islam and the post-nationalist West is not hard to explain. Islam was the first real global ideology, and however retrograde the tribalism that is the local organizing principle in virtually all “Islamic” states, its hostility to Western and above all to Jewish nationalism makes it a secret ally, and, with Africa exemplifying the recipient of “post-colonialist” charity, the ideal victimary entity to oppose to Western “imperialism.” The more the jihadists give us excellent reasons for “Islamophobia,” the more the latter can be moralistically denounced.
It suffices to stand back a little, not easy in the midst of screaming mobs, to become aware of how simple these configurations really are. It is fascinating how, despite the irrationalities that surround these issues, their crucial dimensions follow a kind of prophetic logic. What else is there after all in the West’s current malaise that cannot be summed up in its relationship with the two “Semitic” peoples? Antisemitism has returned as a serious problem in Europe despite the paucity of Jews, its virulent Near-Eastern Islamic strain provoked by the scandal of Israel’s existence and vastly multiplied by the fact that it is so much more successful and productive than its neighbors. Not to speak of the fact that the UN never spent a dime on its “refugees”—let alone after 70 years—while lavishing funds on its corrupt and inefficient Palestinian counterpart. What could illustrate better than the obscene comparisons between the IDF and the SS and the talk of Palestinian “genocide” the accuracy of Girard’s aphorism that “Hitlerism avenges its defeat by making the concern for victims [le souci des victimes] despairing, caricatural” (Je vois Satan tomber comme l’éclair [Grasset, 1999]: 271; my translation).
The notion of firstness, which entered GA as a result of Adam Katz’s clarification concerning the necessarily non-unanimous onset of the conversion of the originary aborted gesture of appropriation into a unanimous sign, has remained, in my usage at least, deliberately vague, in contrast to the elegant symmetry of the “moral model” that the reciprocal exchange of signs would ultimately embody. This passage from firstness to equality is, if not the inherent telos of historical evolution, at any rate its natural gradient. The moral model is our only real point of equilibrium. All hierarchies and dissymmetries in human relations are meant to exist only to eventually dissolve themselves for the benefit of all, whether the Last Judgment be, as wisdom once had it, divine, or that of the “final conflict” of the Internationale, or simply the ultimate result of “progress.” This is an insight that the Judeo-Christian world, and in its often perverse way the Muslim world as well, have set at the heart of their religious traditions. The question of who should be counted in the “all” in the short term, however, is not thereby resolved.
In contrast to our “moral instinct,” the resentment that drives enforcement of the moral model, conservatism’s basis in Edmund Burke’s reaction to the French Revolution has only “tradition” and “common sense” on its side. The difficulty is that unless guaranteed by a universally shared faith, these values, ethical rather than moral, can operate only so long as they remain unthematized. As the left has not forgotten since 1789, as soon as you begin to assert the “naturalness” of a social norm—opposing homosexual marriage, for example—you have already refuted your claim by plunging it into the cultural stream in which it cannot help but be swept along. Burkean conservatism is always a rear-guard action, a rational appeal to the irrational.
The essential political quality of Donald Trump, as Victor Davis Hanson has pointed out with his usual astuteness, is as a Burkean conservative, a non-ideological believer in our “traditional” and “common-sense” values. Many so-called conservatives have been repelled by Trump’s demotic crudeness. Why could we not find someone more refined and articulate than Trump to oppose the victimary? But one cannot operate in the real world with “counterfactual history.” Like many initially repulsed by him, I have learned to admire what can only be called his political genius.
Trump’s triumph only goes to show that there was no opportunity for someone who could actually articulate an anti-victimary position rather than signal one with tweets and occasional enormities. Rather than take this out on the one whose insight saved us from another four or more years of ever more noxious victimocracy (though perhaps less hostile to Israel), we should focus on the problem itself.
There are plenty of intellectuals on the right, not all of whom were caught up in the fatuous never-Trump crusade. But none of these would have been capable of embodying the anti-victimary position, even with all the caveats attached to Trump’s embodiment of it. Whether or not he is a “true conservative” according to the latest post-Burkean definition, he was the only viable candidate to reject the kind of White Guilt-saturated victimary thinking that has become second nature to most “right-thinking” people. The instinctive reaction of such people after every jihadist massacre—which mainstream US (though no longer European) newspapers, e.g., the LA Times’ first report of the recent Westminster Bridge incident, still avoid until absolutely unavoidable associating in any way with Islam—is to express fear for the ever-menacing backlash against innocent Muslims. As I have said, if such people had been around on December 7, 1941, they would have warned us against Nipponophobia.
What this suggests is less lack of courage than of an ethical vocabulary that can defend firstness without recourse to the traditional religious bulwark of ethical values. The real point of victimary thinking, as I have said repeatedly, is to impose ascriptive discrimination as the model for all inequalities of outcome, and thereby to explain away all humiliating differentials of success by “disparate impact.” In a developed world that still lives by but can no longer defend the idea of national difference, that grieves for every unsuccessful boatload of economic migrants crossing the Mediterranean but whose very existence depends on it not being so easy to cross, there is virtually no form of social order that cannot be condemned for “disparate impact” at its most extreme. Hence as “Godwin’s Law” makes clear, comparisons with Hitler are not about to go out of style. Although it is easy for me to say this, it is not possible for any politician, even Donald Trump, to clearly articulate it. Indeed, as the whole history of GA and even to some extent of “mimetic theory” has shown, the only way to get to the bottom of these anthropological problems today is to stay out of the “public sphere.”
But to say one cannot say something is nevertheless already to say it, and this reminds us that Trump’s inarticulateness is after all only relative. No doubt he will fall into many of the victimary clichés that have become our second nature; he is not, indeed, a consistent ideologically-driven affirmer of firstness like the Alt-Right that the left loves to assimilate him to, as though he were ready to send his beloved Ivanka to the gas chamber. Nor need we fear that Trump’s enormities, like complaining when a hostile judge is “Mexican,” will by his example become respectable. But we can have some assurance that the more extreme forms of the victimary already openly mocked on the right, such as “safe spaces” and “micro-aggressions,” will become less so.
Firstness cannot and should not be treated as a moral principle on the same level as moral equality. The attempt to ground any such attempt on a firm ontology produces something like the Nazi ideology of the Master Race—for which btw the now-sainted Nietzsche, not to speak of Heidegger, provided much of the ammunition.
As John Rawls demonstrated in his own quasi-originary way, difference must always be justified by its contribution to reciprocity. The difficulty of the current stage of the modern economy is that as it grows more productive and more creative, it puts an increasing premium on the manipulation of symbols as opposed to things. This was humanity’s originary distinction from the animals, but until recently its development beyond the universally accessible level of ordinary conversation remained a minority activity. It is only with modern robotics and digital technology that the direct manipulation of things, for which we are all more or less gifted, has increasingly given way to highly technical forms of symbol-manipulation, putting our essential humanity into question as never before.
For indeed the fundamental guarantee of our moral equality is our common ability to exchange words, and as Seth Saunders brings out in his The Invention of Hebrew (Illinois 2009), the great advance in religious insight that enabled the West’s ultimate modernization has its origin in the Hebrews’ democratization of writing. But if we can all read the Torah, the New Testament, or the Koran, not too many of us can decipher Gödel’s proof or Einstein’s paper on General Relativity.
It is always paradoxical to offer reasons to recommend the revival of religious faith. But inasmuch as the victimary functions in fact less as a principle of secular morality than as a sad caricature of Christianity, it has the potential to stimulate a revival of the real thing. Real Christians—and not only Christians—along with loving their enemies, which comes all too easily to those who idolatrize the resentment of their “victims,” are able to recognize evil. Love the sinner, hate the sin is not possible when one finds every excuse for not “judging” the victimary Other. All religions, Islam included, understand that all human beings belong to a single race.
These remarks are not meant as mere exhortations, but to express a certain optimism that the false virtue of victimary morality can be overcome. Along with Brexit and other European stirrings, Trump’s election is only a beginning, and it is regrettable but inevitable that many people will tend to focus on the imperfect messenger without grasping the importance of his message. But the clichés of one generation will more easily appear ridiculous to the next, and to the extent that the weakening of the victimocracy can actually produce some positive results in the schools, the economy, and the international scene by deculpabilizing the West’s capacity for the healthy promotion of firstness, it still remains possible for Western civilization to put itself back on its feet. Only then can it continue to pursue, necessarily in fits and starts, its apparent destiny to lift the rest of the world to its current level of human welfare and beyond.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eric Gans is a literary scholar, philosopher of language, and cultural anthropologist. Since 1969, he has taught, and published on, 19th century literature, critical theory, and film in the UCLA Department of French and Francophone studies. Gans invented a new science of human culture and origins he calls Generative Anthropology, based on the idea that the origin of language was a singular event and that the history of human culture is a genetic or "generative" development of that event. For more information on this author, click here.